The Granada striker ranks the Spanish legend as the toughest opponent he has faced in La Liga
Barcelona’s iconic defender Carles Puyol is the toughest opponent Roberto Soldado has gone up against during his time in La Liga.
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Former Valencia and Tottenham striker Soldado sealed a return to Spain’s top flight in July, signing with newly promoted Granada following two seasons at Fenerbahce.
Soldado came through the ranks at Real Madrid, spending time at Osasuna and Getafe before excelling for Valencia, later joining Villarreal after a difficult two-season spell at Spurs.
The 34-year-old singled out Barca and Spain great Puyol, who retired in 2014, as the most difficult match-up he has faced – even going so far as to describe their contests as a “war”.
“I would say Puyol is the one who has made me suffer the most,” Soldado said, courtesy of La Liga.
“I think it was like war with Puyol. He was the most aggressive defender there was, the most heavy-handed.
“Then he was the one who complained the most. But, yes, there was a nice rivalry there and maybe he’s the one who has given me the toughest battles.”
Though Soldado struggled to find form at Tottenham, scoring just seven Premier League goals for the capital club, he believes his time in England was crucial in making him a more rounded forward.
“With the passing of the years, my spell in England changed the way I played,” Soldado said.
“Before maybe I was a player who waited a lot in the box, who didn’t get involved so much and now maybe, after going to England, you change that a little.
“I got more involved. But I know [Granada] have signed me to score goals and I’m going to do everything I can to score as many as possible.
“I’m delighted to be back in the best league, especially after two years in an inferior league to this one.
“The first two weeks I was here I did find it a little hard to keep up with the pace of training. The pace of training is higher here than in Turkey. But I think I’ve adapted well, I think I’m going to perform at a high level and I’m going to give everything I’ve got for my team.”
Soldado also revealed some strict pre-match superstitions.
“I always start to get change with my right side, I step onto the pitch with my right foot, I jump twice before going on,” he said.
“They’re habits or obsessions that make you feel confident when you do them, even if they don’t make a difference.”